Justice according to Ameer Jamat-e-Islami

Today while browsing youtube, I stumbled on this interview of the ‘Ameer’ (leader) of Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan.

The interviewer questioned Mr. Munawwar Hasan in regards to his party’s opposition towards the ‘Women protection bill’. Prior to this bill, justice towards women (especially the rape cases) came under the jurisdiction of the infamous Hudood Ordinance. Here is how it worked, it required the victim of rape crimes to produce four witnesses if she claimed to have been raped by someone. If the victim was unable to produce the said number of witnesses, she was to stand trial for adultery, while the criminal roamed freely.

The interviewer asked Mr. Munawwar Hasan if this was the form of justice Islam and Qura’an upholds, since due to the very same Hudood ordinance the number of females accused of adultery is upto 80%, to which he asks the interviewer to recite the ‘Shahadah’ and become a Muslim again, since he questioned the Qura’anic teachings. According to Mr. Munawwar Hasan, Islam discourages such crimes (ofcourse it does). But Mr. Hasan goes as far as to say that “if the woman cannot bring four witnesses (which she cannot), she should not demand justice”. And to imagine their agenda is to uphold shariah and Qura’anic ways in the country.

The most remarkable thing in this video is that the interviewer practically cornered Mr. Hasan, seeking no way out, he ‘blamed’ it all on the Qura’an and ‘revoked’ the status of the interviewer as a Muslim. During this short clip, Mr. Hasan failed to produce any verse or Hadith from the Qura’an, rather he claimed this happened ‘during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him)’ the age long claim of the religious groups. If they cannot prove something from the holy texts they refer to the ‘times of the Prophet (peace be upon him)’ and make up stories which they know no one can claim.

Islam is a complete religion. It upholds justice and social values, therefore creating a peaceful society. But unfortunately, people like him have distorted the image of this beautiful religion. No one can question them as they are the ‘final authority’ over Islam. Islam upheld the status of women in society, but after viewing this video one might be forced to think otherwise.

In Islam such issues which are related with the dignity of men and women have been strictly emphasized upon in the Holy Qura’an.

[33:58] And those who malign believing men and believing women for what they have not earned shall bear the guilt of a calumny and a manifest sin.

[33:59] O Prophet! tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw close to them portions of their loose outer coverings. That is nearer that they may thus be distinguished and not molested. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

[33:60] If the hypocrites, and those in whose heart is a disease, and those who cause agitation in the city, desist not, We shall surely give thee authority over them; then they will not dwell therein as thy neighbors, save for a little while.

[33:61] Then they will be accursed. Wherever they are found, they will be seized, and cut into pieces.

– Surah Al Ahzaab

Though these self-proclaimed scholars fail to see such instruction in the Holy Qura’an. Rather they create their own version of Islam and portray it as the real deal. May God keep us protected from their shenanigans.

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Ignoring is the first step towards ignorance

I am a frequent reader of Express tribune blogs, where I come across interesting viewpoints and mindsets. As people who have read my posts may have noticed that most of my posts are pro-Islamic yet anti-clergy. The reason for which is the fact that I believe the clergymen in practice today are steering majority of the nation (who follows them) in a dark ditch of ignorance. Then I came across this post on Express tribune blogs which was in agreement with what I have been telling my fellow Muslims about how these clergymen distort religious texts to gain their own benefits / congregation.

Naturally, I was expecting criticism to this by some hardline rightist, but it was shocking to see yet another viewpoint towards this issue. The author claims, it is better to ignore such things and move on. Many will agree and have taken up this viewpoint towards the distortion of Holy scriptures and religious theories. It is this attitude towards religion that is responsible for where our nation stands today both socially and economically. We allow these self-proclaimed scholars to continue professing ‘what they think is Islam’, these scholars know that no one will challenge their preaching, because as a matter of fact, people either don’t have time to look up their references or, as in this case, people don’t really care.

Today, we speak of accountability, in every aspect of life. Then why should we leave these clergymen unaccountable for what they preach? I can understand if religion is not a priority for many, but as I have said before, religion was the central entity towards development and disaster for every civilization. Take any example, Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs, Greeks or Romans. Their rise and fall revolved around their religious beliefs whatever they may be! Muslims are no different (if you think of Muslims as a civilization).

If we ignore this (what may seem as a small) issue today, we will ignore other issues, that might be of importance tomorrow. In-fact, many did. Hence, it is time we show interest in matters of religion and try to understand, at least the important issues for ourselves, because we aren’t going to reach anywhere by following these self-proclaimed clerics neither are we going to achieve peace by completely ignoring issues related to our belief.

Smokers Corner: Young Turks to the rescue

—By Nadeem F. Paracha
On my recent trip to Istanbul, I came across an article written by a senior Turkish journalist who warned the Turkish government not to dabble in ‘political Islam’. The example that he gave of such an experiment going dangerously wrong was, of course, that of Pakistan. Interestingly this is exactly what I mentioned to some Turkish university students whom I had met on my first trip to that country in 2009.

Nevertheless, my recent trip convinced me that chances of Turkey becoming an ideological casualty like Pakistan are rather scant. Today Turkey is shining through as an example of a Muslim majority country that is functioning rather well as a secular state and society.

For decades Turkey was striving to find a balance between the great Mustafa Kemal’s radical secular doctrines and its historical link with a royalist Islamic past. But ironically it has been two full terms of a moderate Islamic party in the government that has been the most successful in finally giving Turkey this balance.

No wonder, then, that Justice & Development Party (JDP), has now won a third term in the recently held elections. In spite of the fact that the JDP has a rather staunch Islamist past, the two consecutive terms in power has helped it evolve into a moderate party that is more interested in addressing the people’s economic aspirations and demands than ideology.

I saw the way the party campaigned for this June’s election, and not once did I see a poster or heard a JDP leader even mention religion. I asked one of its supporters if that was  due to the JDP fearing a reaction from Turkey’s staunchly secular military, and he told me this was not the case. He said Turks do not need to be lectured on Islam by a political party; and that secondly, the military does not believe anymore that a JDP-led government would dismantle Mustafa Kemal’s secularism.

He said the JDP would once and for all limit the Turkish army’s interventionist role in politics. ‘The party is doing this through democracy and a revamped constitution,’ he added. So, for the first time a popularly elected civilian government is successfully standing up to a politically overbearing military in Turkey which, in the name of defending Kemal’s secular legacy, has had a history of interfering in politics and propping up various nationalist outfits that in turn gave birth to some radical Islamist groups in the 1980s.

This was an irony that itself was tackled by yet another irony in which a moderate Islamist political party led the way by finally turning Turkey into a strong economic player, with democracy stopping constant military intervention in its tracks. The JDP, I noticed, was squarely focused on further advancing Turkey’s recent economic growth. Little was ever said about Islam, even though the issue of Turkey’s long-lasting ban on the veil and the headscarf (in government institutions) has opened up as a debate.

Istanbul is a great expression of the wonderful surreal scenario today’s Turkey exhibits to a person coming from a country like Pakistan where even the most secular public space is being invaded and occupied by gaudy religious symbolism and rhetoric. In Istanbul, bars, nightclubs, cafes, spice markets, carpet sellers, fast food joints, restaurants, western tourists, traffic jams, men and women in the most modern western clothes and women in hijabs, all go about their business, as many beautiful mosques that Istanbul is dotted with call out the faithful to prayer five times a day.

Not once did I come across a Turk frowning at this perfectly functioning juxtaposition of the secular with the religious. Why should they? The economy is doing well, investors and tourists continue to throng Turkey, their mosques and markets are not being blown up by mad men in the name of God. And yet it is the same God Pakistani Muslims worship as well.

In Istanbul I stayed at a lovely little ‘boutique hotel’ in the serene area where the marvellous Blue Mosque is situated. The area is surrounded by the most amazing array of tulip flowers and comfy benches on which I continued to see young Turk couples sitting, holding hands, smilingly and whispering to one another.

What amazed me was the number of girls in headscarves. To a Pakistani this would be an astonishing sight. Women in hijab holding hands with men in public! On the other end, the popular Turkish prime minster’s wife who wears hijab actually takes it off when visiting a public hospital or a school where hijab is banned. This, some Turks told me, was her way of showing respect to modern Turkey’s secular heritage. Stunning stuff.

A majority of Turks also want to become part of the European Union. No Turk sees this as something that would harm their sovereignty or their religious identity; instead they see this opportunity as a way to further Turkey’s economic prowess. Also, did you know the so-called ‘Muslim creationists’ like Harun Yayah (a Turk), who became such a hit in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, are actually described as ‘deli’ or ‘kizgin’ (both meaning crazy) by a majority of Turks? The Turks sound perfectly sane while trailing a smooth path between religion and secularism.

via Smokers Corner: Young Turks to the rescue.

Justice in an Islamic republic

I came across a very shocking news on BBC today, I am embarrassed as a Muslim and as a Pakistani. Pakistan, which is supposedly dubbed as a ‘Fort of Islam’, humans are treated as badly as animals. For example, take the famous case of Mukhtaran Mai, I fail to understand a country with ‘two’ parallel judiciary systems (shariah court and the supreme court), many of the culprits went home unharmed. What good are these systems if they can’t deliver justice? Pakistan is a country where a legal case can (in some cases) go down till generations.

While I mentioned the two ‘major’ judicial systems in Pakistan, there is a commonly known and swifter (than the other two) known as the ‘panchayat’ or ‘jirga’. It is found in a vast area, majorly because majority of Pakistanis reside in rural areas. It is evident with the case of Mukhtaran Mai, these trivial (and feudal) judicial systems are influential in their surroundings. It consists of a certain amount of influential people from that area who decide the fate of individuals and families there. Many people raise the question as to what is wrong with these ‘little courts’. To begin with, they can order someone’s killing, these systems are ‘eligible’ to annul a legal marriage and they can order illegal marriages. There have been many many cases of child marriages, majority of which came from a ‘little court’ decisions.

Many ‘traditional customs’, such as the infamous tradition of burning the widow when the husband is dead (still found in many parts of Sindh) are ordered by these self-proclaimed judges. They can dub a legally married couple as ‘karokari‘ and get them killed in front of an entire village.

What is more shocking is that, those who demand the ‘Shariah law’ fail to condemn these incidents and turn their eyes from it completely. Their argument is that they cannot ‘interfere’ in someone else’s customs. The most glorified shariat institute, the shariah court fail to notice such events, which happen right under their noses. As for the ‘normal’ courts of Pakistan, they are already littered with cases one cannot even imagine. Living in this ‘divided’ judicial system; suffering and humiliation is the fate of majority in Pakistan.

Song of heaven (educated illiterates)

Many of my friends whom ‘recently found their faith’ shared the following video with me (my comments are followed by this video):

This is the famous Tariq Jameel. The very well-known cleric for his ‘magical’ guidance. He allegedly converted Junaid Jamshed, who was a musician prior to meeting this man. This man has influenced many Muslims all over the world, they are impressed by the sheer volume of knowledge (or fairy tales) this guy have. In this video he addressing the ‘educated’ youth of Punjab.

While they were bathing in the spiritual pool of faith (in their imaginations) I was shocked when I heard the claims of this ‘priest’. Listen to the hall uttering ‘SubhanAllah’ (God is great) as if what he spoke was from Qura’an or Hadith. Tariq Jameel claims that those who don’t listen to music in this world will be eligible to listen to the song of heaven, the song of David and get to view God. It was as if this was revealed to him directly from God.

Utter nonsense, I did not find any of his claims in any holy books, or even in the references of the clerics of the past. While I was wondering where he got his references, I found myself confronted by my ‘newly faith fond’ friends, who dubbed me as an infidel for asking about the references from either the Qura’an or hadith. The argument they put forward was that this man (Tariq Jameel) have knowledge parallel to none. I merely wanted to know his source of ‘wisdom’.

Such is the menace of the creature called ‘Mullah’. Even as of today, no one has gone forward to challenge this man on his claims and I am sure no one will ever do that in the future. Until we have people present in our society who follow these self-proclaimed clerics blindly, even God wouldn’t save us from their menace.

The ‘only’ way out for Muslims (especially for Pakistani Muslims)

On a tribune blog post I was asked a question:

how do you think ‘taking up religion’ will help our cause when Muslims themselves remain divided on so many aspects of Islam? How does one ‘take up religion’?

here is my response, which I think is the main issue in all of this

The reason ‘Muslims’ stand divided today is because they have left others to decide their religion. For instance, since when did the ‘clergy’ have the power to dub anyone ‘non-Muslim’? They do it and the rest follow blindly. I can give many examples.

What is causing this ‘radicalization’? Why are these who call themselves Muslims hell-bent on taking innocent lives? Even the educated fail to take up issues with the clergy when it comes to belief. For instance, how can you ask a young Muslim man not to wage Jihad? or ask a cleric to stop preaching about it? My question is what according to you is educated and literate?

General Zia, in his ruling period, formed a team of elite ‘scientists’ who were sent to research how to harness the power of djinns. Measure the temperature of hell, find the speed of heaven. Should they be considered literate? Now the other side of the story, a simple man from Jhang, who was educated in this country, goes on to win the Nobel prize in Physics for his famous electro-weak theory (which I doubt many Pakistanis know about) and he is dubbed infidel and thrown out of the country. Why? because he said he found this enlightenment from the Holy Qura’an. Should I consider him illiterate? I am ofcourse talking about Professor Dr. Abdus Salam.

The messed up religious views have created another level of illiterate, they are known as the educated illiterate. Our armed forces personnel are provided with education on science and technology, even they cannot stop this ‘radicalization’ from infiltrating their ranks. Whether you agree or not, even education will not be able to fix this radicalization. I say that because we have examples of ‘western educated’ Muslims turning into radicals. An investigative report suggests that even at this moment this radicalization have penetrated into our Universities.

We have to take up religion personally, take interest, be curious about it. It is not merely fairy tales (like we are made to believe by the clergy), it is the ONLY way out of this.

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